A few examples suffice. The defendant has no criminal record. Accordingly, that fact that a convicted felon cannot obtain a firearms license in New York would not have disqualified the defendant had he applied. Similarly unpersuasive is the defendant’s claim that the licensing scheme is overly restrictive, because the statutory definition of serious offense in PL, a conviction for which is disqualifying, includes not only an arbitrary selection of misdemeanors but violations such as trespass, disorderly conduct and loitering. Federal law already prohibits those convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence from possessing firearms. Additionally, the requirement that a gun license applicants be of good moral character would appear to be one of long standing, as most scholars of the Second Amendment agree that the right to bear arms was tied to the concept of a virtuous citizenry and that, accordingly, the government could disarm unvirtuous citizens.
The defendant’s claim that the availability of a firearms license is under the complete control and virtually unreviewable discretion of the New York City Police Commissioner is wrong. The statute provides an unsuccessful applicant with an administrative appeal process, and that decision can be challenged in court in a CPLR proceeding. As the People state, if an applicant is unsatisfied with the judgment of Supreme Court, he/she is entitled, as of right, to appeal the final judgment of that court to the Appellate Division, whose order is appealable, by permission, to the Court of Appeals. The court’s role in such an Article 78 proceeding is to ensure that the administrative decision denying a petitioner a firearms license was neither arbitrary and capricious nor an abuse of discretion. Finally, as the People correctly point out, the cases that defendant cites for his claim that the police have a history of inserting their own requirements into the licensing regulations all reversed administrative denials of firearms licenses where the officials inserted their own requirements. Clearly then, contrary to defendant’s claim, the discretion of a pistol licensing officer to deny an application is not unfettered, and the officials involved – including the NYPD licensing division – are bound by standards reviewable in a court of law.